Unlike other businesses which have at one time experienced a sharp rise in trading, the art world in this country has never enjoyed a sustainable expansion of sales. One doesn’t necessary need to be an insider to notice this. Botswana has rich and diverse traditional art forms as dynamic as the people. One will agree that there is expanding growth of contemporary art in Botswana. Artists are trying to carve a legacy for themselves. Our society should be aware that the most important function of fine art is not to experiment, but to find a path to keep our culture moving in the midst of ideological confusion.
Local artists sought to maintain the high level of their work by both narrowing and raising it to express the every day life. The most important thing in this country is that audience in the exhibition appreciates the value of art. Purchasing the work of art is still a problem. The local market depends on expatriates, especially those residing in Botswana. Artists are trying their best to communicate with the audience on our social issues.
Art lovers are also realizing that local artists are producing art works of very higher standards for the world market. Their work involves religion and tradition and is in line with the movement of art. The artworks range from classic, modernism, postmodernism, impressionism up to art for art’s sake. Artists are no longer able to estimate the response of the audience attending exhibitions because of the lower sells of art works. During an exhibition, less than ten works could be bought.
But there is enough quality art to meet the demand. Artists are slowly expanding into areas that directly benefit them. This includes targeting other Southern African countries such as South Africa.
Others artists like Shepherd Ndudzo have exhibited in South Africa and have a better market there. Early this year, a group of artists also went to Johannesburg to establish links with fellow artists in that country. Local artists also believe that the price for valuable artworks being sold in this country should at least match prices in the region and overseas.
Artists were pleased during the opening of ‘Artists in Botswana’ in April, when the Minister of Sports, Youth and Culture, Major General Moeng Pheto, announced that the ministries would start buying art. In addition, institutions such as the National Museum, Monuments and Art Gallery have developed collections and organized exhibitions in order to promote and market the artists. Currently, Botswana has few commercial galleries namely Gallery Ann, Frame Gallery, Botswana Craft, Alliance Fran├ºoise, as well as the African Easy Art Gallery in Kasane. These galleries received few audiences who intended to buy artworks for lower prices.
Furthermore, a variety of non-government organizations such as Thapong Visual Arts Centre, Kuru Arts Project and Botswana Society for the Arts are trying to support and build the contemporary arts sector in Botswana by organizing artist’s exhibitions and workshops.